Iowa City’s Shreya Khullar reflects on year as Student Poet Ambassador

One year ago, Shreya Khullar was the newly inaugurated Iowa Student Poet Ambassador.

Now, she’s a soon-to-be graduate of Iowa City West High School who will be moving to the East Coast to attend Columbia University this fall.

From April 2021 to April 2022, Khullar carried the title of Iowa Student Poet Ambassador.

Her final act of service was to pass the position to the state’s second student poet ambassador, Johnnie Each of Cedar Rapids, in Des Moines at an inauguration ceremony last month.

“The program was forming with me as I was forming as a poet,” Khullar told the Press-Citizen as she reflected on her tenure. “In that way, it was really special to me and I had to let it go.”

The mission of the Iowa Student Poet Ambassador is to celebrate a “talented student poet” who will support the voices “of young people in Iowa, and raise awareness of the literary arts.”

Khullar said that involved helping people understand how accessible poetry is and that it is something students can pursue.

Shreya Khullar, a junior at Iowa City West High School in Iowa City, Iowa, delivers a poem after being inaugurated as Iowa's first student poet ambassador during a ceremony at the Iowa Capitol Building rotunda in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, April 30, 2021.

Jan Warren is the assistant director for student services at the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center and coordinator of the Iowa Student Poet Ambassador program.

She explained that the team behind the student poet ambassadorship required Khullar to participate in four events, with others being optional to ensure Khullar could focus on her academics.

Khullar accepted every opportunity she was offered, Warren said.

As student poet ambassador, Khullar participated in the All Iowa Reads program, which selects a book for three different age categories and provides discussion questions and author visits to promote unity through learning opportunities.

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